As a teenager I was a state lifeguard, working on the beaches during the summers. Our group of guards was really fun, and we occasionally threw themed parties, one of which involved making and rolling our own sushi. At the time, I was not a fan of fish (though I am now), and I had requested a non-fish variety of sushi for our cooking experiment. Way to be the difficult person in the crowd!
What we came up with was chicken cooked in teriyaki sauce with avocado, mango, and cucumber. It might sound weird, but it's quite the winning combo! So much so, that even as my tastes changed and I learned to really appreciate fish and "normal" sushi, this chicken variety still makes its way into the recipe rotation for home rolling.
As for the marinated chicken, I prefer Soyaki sauce that Trader Joe's sells. I cut slices of chicken and let them marinate in about a half cup of Soyaki for 10-20 minutes, then dump the chicken and marinade into the skillet and cook the chicken and liquid all the way down. The marinade boils and then caramelizes a bit, creating a sticky, densely flavored strip of chicken.
The rest of the ingredients are sliced thinly. Mango. Avocado. Cucumber.
One nice thing about having a Chinatown neighborhood in the city is cheap and easy-to-find Asian food ingredients. I found a 3-pack of nori/seaweed wrappers (30 sheets) in a Chinatown market for far less that one package often costs. Nori can now be purchased for a decent price at most regular grocery stores, though.
I add a tiny bit of sugar and rice vinegar to the rice and let it cool. The bamboo roller is not required but makes things a bit easier. The key to assembly is to have a little water dish near your rolling station. To make successful sushi, nothing should stick to your hands, so I use the water to wet the nori and to keep my hands wet enough so the rice does not stick.
1) knife: use a sharp, serrated knife
2) water: run the knife under water every few cuts
3) wrap: the nori wrapper must be damp enough to seal to the roll closed completely, so that when you go to cut it, the nori does not unroll and cause your filling to spill out.
Over New Year's Eve, our friends invited us to a sushi-rolling party, and we experimented with several new fillings. Our host had purchased sashimi-grade tuna (maguro) at Whole Foods, so that we could try maguro and spicy tuna rolls. (It's sustainable, too, Mom!)
Oh, and if you're a wasabi-lover like me, I highly recommend the little green tube, sold at most grocery stores. Do not mess with the powder that you have to mix with water. The powder does not taste great after being stored....
Homemade sushi is fun to make and actually makes for a fun dinner party activity, but I recommend having extra rolls ready so that you keep up with how quickly the sushi is being consumed!
Next time we'll have to try some fresh fish, especially since we're so close to the ocean again.